Many of TWC's clients and readers are Pro-Life. While sometimes painted as archaic in beliefs and lifestyles most are highly successful, tech savvy, modern Americans. They attend Synagogue, take sacrament as lay Catholics, and worship at Catholic-lite mainstream protestant churches. There's a goodly share of Fundies, including those who hang with outfits like Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard. Although often surprising to the other side, when you get past the cookie cutter stereotyping it turns out that a significant number of Pro-Lifers aren't religious at all.
Like the president, most are conflicted when the promise of ending disease as we know it through stem cell research bumps into deeply held values with respect to the sanctity of life and when it actually begins.
William Hurlbut clicks his laptop, and an x-ray pops up on the projection screen behind him. It's a picture of a tumor in a woman's ovary - a ghostly blob floating near the spine. In the middle are several strange, Chiclet-shaped nodules. "Those white opacities," Hurlbut says, "are actually fully formed teeth."
Hurlbut advocates genetically altering cloned embryos so...they wouldn't have the DNA necessary to become viable humans. For the first few days of existence, they would grow normally and produce stem cells, but then die when a critical embryonic component - say, a placenta - failed to emerge. "They would have no coherent drive in the direction of mature human form," Hurlbut tells the crowd.
"It's analogous to growing skin in a tissue culture. Such an entity would never rise to the level of a human being." You could grow them in vats, kill them at will, and never risk offending God. As both a medical doctor and a deeply religious Christian, Hurlbut borrows from each side: It's a theological breakthrough in the form of a scientific technique.
Exciting stuff. Whole thing at Wired Magazine.